Drafthouse Films Back in Distribution With XYZ Films Partnership on ‘Jallikattu’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Drafthouse Films is stepping back into the world of distribution after a five-year hiatus with the North American co-release of India’s Oscar entry, “Jallikattu.”

The company — which is the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema — is partnering with XYZ Films, which picked up the phantasmagorical “Jallikattu” for North America back in December. The title, which is Drafthouse Films’ first new acquisition since 2016, marks a new directive by the distributor to support emerging filmmakers.

“[‘Jallikattu’] blew us away because it felt like it was beamed in from another dimension and left a permanent imprint on our brain,” said Drafthouse Films in a statement shared with Variety.

XYZ and Drafthouse are planning a spring release that will include theatrical support, as well as all digital platforms along with a Blu-Ray edition of the film.

Directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery, “Jallikattu” is an Indian Malayalam-language action film with a screenplay by S. Hareesh and R. Jayakumar, based on the short story “Maoist” by Hareesh.

The pic follows the upheaval that unfolds when a butcher’s buffalo escapes and runs amok through a remote village in the hill ranges of Kerala, in southern India. A mission to catch and kill the deadly animal quickly unleashes the villagers’ own primal instincts, culminating in a senseless and self-destructive frenzy of violence.

The film stars Antony Varghese, Chemban Vinod Jose, Sabumon Abdusamad and Santhy Balachandran. It is produced by O Thomas Panicker, and executive produced by Naushad Salahudin and Guneet Monga (“The Lunchbox”) alongside XYZ Films.

“Jallikattu” originally premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival to critical acclaim, and director Lijo Jose Pellissery went on to win the best director prize at the 50th International Film Festival of India. Shortly after the film’s Fantastic Fest premiere, it debuted at select Alamo Drafthouse theaters.

Prior to its hiatus, Drafthouse Films had picked up a number of international feature film and documentary Oscar nominees, including Michaël R. Roskam’s Dutch drama “Bullhead” and Joshua Oppenheimer’s groundbreaking documentaries “The Act of Killing” and “The Look of Silence.”

Founded in 2008 by Nate Bolotin, Nick Spicer and Aram Tertzakian, hybrid production outfit and sales company XYZ has worked on several past international Oscar entries, ranging from “Under the Shadow” (U.K.) to “Viva” (Ireland), “The Dead Lands” (New Zealand) and “The Long Walk” (Laos).

Other global titles in XYZ’s portfolio are “The Raid” and “The Raid 2” (Indonesia), Netflix original “The Night Comes For Us” (Indonesia), “On the Job” (Philippines) and Netflix’s “The Platform” (Spain).

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